How Common Are Electric Shock Injuries on Construction Sites?

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Electric shock injuries can be severe, and in serious cases, they can affect workers for the rest of their lives. According to a National Fire Protection Association report, 77% of all fatal contract work electrocutions involved construction workers. Whether it is the fault of defective wiring, unsafe working conditions, or poor safety training, workers who are hurt or killed due to an electrical accident on a job site deserve compensation and recovery.

Here, you can learn more about the dangers of electric shock injuries on New York construction sites and how a skilled Buffalo personal injury lawyer and construction accident lawyer can help you fight for what you deserve.

How Common Are Electrical Accidents on Construction Sites?

Construction workers account for a large portion of electrical injuries every year in the United States. In 2015, as an example, roughly 60% of all workplace electrocutions occurred on construction sites. In fact, construction workers are about four times more likely to be electrocuted compared to workers in other industries. The age range for most (64%) electrocution deaths was between 20 and 44.

Why Are Construction Workers at Increased Risk of Electric Shock?

A construction site can be a dangerous place for several reasons, from trip hazards like extension cords to defective equipment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the construction industry as one of the top 10 most dangerous jobs in the United States. Construction workers are also at an increased risk of electric shock and risk of electrocution simply because of the nature of the tools they are working with and the fact that the electrical work is often in progress on a construction site.

Workers use power tools and potentially come into contact with electrical lines that can be overhead or buried. They might also deal with new electrical wiring as it is being installed by subcontractor electricians at the worksite. Live wires and faulty ground-fault protection can cause severe problems as well. On top of all of this, they might also have to perform construction work in hazardous weather conditions that mix rain or precipitation and exposed wiring, which can result in electrocution injuries. These common causes are also far more likely if general contractors and subcontractors are not following lockout tagout rules set out by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

In many other jobs, electrical hazards are simply not something that occurs on a regular basis. However, on a construction site, it is far more common.

paramedics treating construction worker

Types of Electric Injuries Common on Construction Sites

An electrical shock results from an electrical current passing through the body. Electric shock causes injury, but an electrocution is an electrical accident that results in a fatality.

Electrical injuries can vary a great deal in terms of severity. How severe an accident may be depends on the path the electrical current takes through the body, the amount of current, and how long the body is exposed to the current. Even low-voltage shocks can be very dangerous, resulting in electrical burns, blistering skin, and injury to the internal organs.

Some of the most common electrical injuries include:

  • Muscle, nerve, and tissue damage from current passing through the body
  • Thermal burns
  • Headache
  • Numbness or tingling (often due to nerve damage)
  • Seizures
  • Muscle spasms and pain
  • Cardiac arrest due to the electrical current’s effect on the heart
  • Problems with swallowing
  • Vision or hearing issues
  • Falling or other injuries following exposure to electricity

The higher the current and longer the exposure, the more likely that an electrical shock injury will be severe. Electrical current enters and leaves the body, so how long it travels through the body and the route it takes will also affect which parts of the body are injured due to the shock.

What to Do After an Electrical Accident at a Construction Site

What You Should Do

If someone near you is experiencing an electric shock, you may be able to take the following steps to help.

  • Turn off the power. If you can safely turn off the electrical current, you should do so. This could involve unplugging a cord, removing a fuse from the fuse box, or turning off a circuit breaker. Keep in mind that simply turning off an appliance or electrical power tool may not stop the flow of electricity.
  • Use a non-conducting object to push the person away. If you cannot stop the power, you may be able to use a non-conducting object to push the person away from the source of the electricity, such as a rug, chair, rubber doormat, or broom. Do not use metal or anything wet. If you have the option, you may want to stand on something yourself that does not conduct electricity while you do this.
  • Check for breathing and pulse. Once the person is away from the electricity source, check for breathing and a pulse. Start first aid if necessary.
  • Call for emergency help. Any time someone has been affected by electricity, it is a good idea to get medical attention. Even if the shock seems minor, a thorough review from a medical professional can mean the difference between life and death. Be sure to stay with the shock victim until medical help arrives.
  • Address burns. If there are any burns, remove any clothing that comes off easily and rinse the burned area with cool, running water until the pain stops. They will need first aid for the burn.
  • Address shock symptoms. If the person shows signs of shock, including looking pale or feeling faint, lay them down with their head slightly lower than the trunk of the body (legs elevated) and cover them with a blanket or coat.

What You Should NOT Do

Electricity is very dangerous, and if you end up being shocked yourself, then you are very little help to anyone else. You should avoid the following actions if you are attempting to help anyone with an electric shock injury at a construction site.

  • Avoid getting too close to high-voltage electrical currents. High voltage currents can easily jump from one source to another. Do not get any closer than 20 feet to someone who is experiencing an electric shock from a high-voltage electrical current until the power is shut off. Overhead power lines are a good example.
  • Avoid touching the person with bare hands. The human body is a good conductor of electricity. Do not touch the person with bare hands until the source of the electricity has stopped.
  • Avoid improperly addressing burns. You should not put ice, medicines, ointments, or adhesive bandages on a burn. These can cause more problems than help. You also should not remove dead skin or break blisters.
  • Avoid moving the person. Once the electricity has been shut off, do not move the person unless there is a risk of ongoing harm. Emergency medical professionals will move the person if it is appropriate.
  • Your first priority should be to avoid getting shocked yourself. Rushing up to help is extremely dangerous; address the flow of electricity first before doing anything else.
construction worker electric shock injury

How a Buffalo Personal Injury Attorney Can Help After a Construction Accident

Having a lawyer help you after a construction accident can be very valuable. They can not only explain your rights to you, but they can help you assert your claim in a way that follows all of the legal requirements and increases your chances of receiving compensation. They can negotiate with your employer or their insurance company, appeal denied claims, and help you understand the law every step of the way.

Why Our Clients Choose The Coppola Firm

Our legal team has over 150 years of combined experience addressing construction accidents. Our Buffalo, New York law firm takes pride in providing outstanding service to our clients—even from the first free consultation. We have a ground floor location and free parking because we know that clients who have work-related injuries often need accessibility options due to their serious injuries.

Our attorneys have a long history of helping construction workers. In one case, a worker fell from a scaffold. He was not provided with any fall protection equipment, and the scaffold did not have railings on all four sides. When he fell, he suffered severe leg and back injuries, requiring multiple surgeries and an extensive hospital stay. His situation was a clear violation of New York State Labor Law § 240, and we were able to help him assert his rights after the fall. New York State has long recognized that these workers deserve extra protection under the law.

In another violation of New York State Labor Law, our attorney was able to help a worker’s family after he was killed on the job at a construction site, obtaining over $2 million for that worker’s family as part of a wrongful death case.

Take Back Your Power with The Coppola Firm

If you have been injured at a construction site, you do not have to assert your claim alone. Let our experienced Buffalo personal injury lawyers and construction accident attorneys help you and your family assert your rights under New York law. Call 716-839-9700 today for a free consultation.

Lisa Coppola

Written by Lisa Coppola

Founder of The Coppola Firm

Lisa A. Coppola, Esq. understands the challenges her clients face, whether they’re starting a new business, taking their existing operations in a new direction, or facing a claim or threat.

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